The Dubai Chief of Police has denied reports of 30 arrests in the emirate but says homosexuality is illegal and against the local norms.
Emirates 24/7, a Dubai based paper, reported that Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai police’s commander-in-chief has denied the report published by PinkNews.co.uk saying that a group of about 30 people, some of whom are reportedly gay were arrested during a private party on 9 March, at the Shangri-La hotel, in Dubai.
In addition he is quoted as saying that ‘Homosexuals and homosexuality exists in all countries of the world, but is prohibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as behaviour contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion as well.’
The paper also quoted an unnamed Dubai police officer saying: ‘The UAE Penal Code prohibits anything that might conflict with religion, values, customs and traditions.’
The United Arab Emirates Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender group (UAE LGBT), however, has collected first hand witness accounts which the campaigners insist prove that the party did happen and arrests arrest did take place.
Adilah, a lesbian member of UAE LGBT, said: ‘My friends were at the party and it did happen, we now know that the hotel security staff tipped off the police who then proceeded with the arrests.
‘People were released the following day after signing a testimonial they would “not do it again”, although two people we know of are still unaccounted for and may be still held in prison because of their sexuality.
‘If “Homosexuals and homosexuality is prohibited in the UAE as behaviour contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion as well”, then what about drinking, live music, celebrating Christmas and Easter? Aren’t those behaviours contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion of the UAE? Or are they ok because UAE tolerates it for the sake of economy/profit?
‘And if the “The UAE Penal Code prohibits anything that might conflict with religion, values, customs and traditions,” but yet tolerates everything mentioned above for the sake of economic prosperity and touristic reputation, shouldn’t it take into consideration not to penalise homosexuals for being gay in their private settings?
‘Instead of persecuting LGBT people for leading personal lifestyles, we suggest they continue to promote no public displays of affection for both gays and straights, and hopefully the homosexuals they despise so much, but who contribute to the GDP of the UAE, can be aware of the do’s and don’t's in this land, just like everyone else, leading safe lives and not “offend” anyone who doesn’t necessarily lead the same lifestyle,’ she suggested.
Abdullah, the chair of the group stated: ‘The UAE engages in behaviour that is regularly at odds with the customs and religion of the country but that is because we are a diverse multicultural country and their actions should be reflecting that.
‘Outlawing homosexuality is contradictory and homophobic and does not equal good governance. We should all be equal under the law. Their duty first and foremost should not be terrorizing our community especially when we are in a private setting.
‘Denying the reports is equally damaging as it raises a sense of panic and confusion in the community, I personally implore the lieutenant to review his statements and protect the integrity of Dubai police.’
Ali, a 25 year old law student from Dubai and member of the UAE LGBT group affirmed: ‘I wish countries like the UAE would be a little less self-contradictory; at least for the sake of their own integrity if not Islam.
‘If alcohol – which is prohibited – could be served to Muslims and non-Muslims alike in controlled spaces, I see no reason for the charges pressed against the two boys that may still be held in custody, whatever their private expression was, no big deal should be made of it.
‘My problem is not with the rules or the laws’, he stressed, ‘my problem is with the officials cheating themselves and more importantly their faith in order to gloss over our country’s image.
‘If the reason for the alcohol allowance is the diversity of people, then let it be known that a human reality is sexuality, which includes LGBT. And we deserve equal treatment.’